Yorkshire Wildlife Trust is concerned about the impact current plans for High Speed 2 Railway (HS2) would have on wildlife. The Wildlife Trusts are generally supportive of sustainable transport schemes - they are an important part of our necessary transition to a low carbon economy - however, we believe this must not be achieved at the expense of the natural environment. So, alongside others, we have been campaigning to ensure that any scheme that goes ahead avoids further erosion of England’s much depleted wildlife and ecosystems.

Background Information

HS2 is proposed as a potential project to run trains up to 225mph from London to the north of England. The project is proposed in two Phases – each of which would have to be approved by Government in two separate ‘Hybrid Bills’.

Phase 1 would run between London and Birmingham and, if approved, would be constructed from 2017 to open in 2026. Phase 2 (the Y-route) is proposed to branch to Manchester and Leeds and, if approved, would be constructed by 2032/3. The Wildlife Trusts own research shows that investment in green infrastructure, habitat restoration and creation as part of HS2 is both affordable (within the scale of the overall budget for the project) and cost-effective. To demonstrate this the Wildlife Trusts affected by Phase 1 and 2 of HS2 have identified and mapped habitat creation opportunities along the route. These areas were subsequently refined to identify the areas where the opportunity for nature restoration is greatest and most cost-effective to devise a strategic corridor (or stepping stones) of habitat that would reconnect fragmented habitats and strengthen local ecological networks.

This work has been published in summary form and as a longer Reference report. You can read a copy of the report here. It shows how a ribbon of natural areas, wild havens, green bridges and cycle ways could be created along the corridor of the HS2 route. Initial costings suggest that environmental restoration on this scale could be achieved with less than 1% of HS2’s overall budget of £42bn and a Cost Benefit Analysis undertaken by researchers at Newcastle University show that the benefits of restoring nature and providing access will outweigh the costs.

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust's response

Our full consultation response including maps showing the sites which are likely to be impacted by the proposed route are available to download below.

The initial consultation for the proposed Phase 2 route closed on 31st January 2014. Our main concerns are:

  • Impacts on sites - 32 wildlife sites in Yorkshire are likely to be directly impacted by the proposed route with many more facing potential indirect impacts
  • Insufficient information - HS2 Ltd has not taken into account Local Wildlife Site designations within their initial assessment and so these have not been considered when deciding on the preferred route
  • Failure to address fragmentation – the current consultation fails to address the loss of ecological connectivity which will be caused by the new line
  • Value for money – there is no analysis of whether the money could be better spent on other projects which may have less of an impact on the environment.

If you would like any more information on our consultation response please contact our planning team on 01904 659570 or email info@ywt.org.uk.

A greener vision for HS2